Report on Interest

Justice Ngwuta resumes duty at Supreme court

By News desk

A Supreme Court Juge Justice Sylvester Ngwuta, who faced trial for corruption and technically suspended from the bench, has resumed his official duties.

Ngwuta, who has been absent from the bench since 2016, was seen at a ceremony on Monday in Abuja, where the title of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) will be conferred on 36 lawyers.

He sat on the bench as the third most senior judge, behind the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad, and Justice Bode Rhodes-Vivour.

Next to Justice Ngwuta in terms of seniority on the bench of 14 judges is Justice Mary Peter-Odili.

In October 2016, Ngwuta’s home in Abuja was raided by operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS).

The secret police claimed it found hard currencies believed to be proceeds of corruption in his residence and was asked to step aside from his duties, though his salary was not stopped, to face charges of money laundering brought against him at a federal high court in Abuja.

Ngwuta also faced charges of false asset declaration at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT). But both cases were dismissed in 2018.

The charges were dismissed based on a judgement of the appeal court which held that serving judges cannot be prosecuted until they have been disciplined by the National Judicial Council (NJC).

However, the CCT overruled itself on this precedent in the case of Walter Onnoghen, former chief justice of Nigeria (CJN).

Onnoghen was found guilty and convicted of false asset declaration in April – without discipline or recommendation by the NJC.

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